The AQA Music A Level course is designed to inspire the musicians of the future. Confidence, skills and understanding of music will be developed to the point that students will be able progress to study BA (Hons) Music at University.
Teacher assessments are continuous during LIVE TAUGHT lessons, marking of coursework and assignments and summative tests.
Homework will be given at the end of each week, usually in the form of problems to solve, researching key concepts and practising playing music.
Homework is ongoing in the sense of performance practising in addition to musical analysis, harmony and composition. There will also be composition and harmony practice.
Parents and students have 24/7 access to all coursework and teacher grades and feedback. Additionally, the school holds 3 optional parent consultations per year – one each term.
The course will follow the current AQA A Level specification.
The course will be based on the Rhinegold Study Guide recommended for the AQA A Level – https://www.rhinegoldeducation.co.uk/product/aqa-as-and-a-level-music-study-guide/
This specification is well-regarded among colleges and universities due to its integrated structure allowing learners to grasp the interconnection of all aspects of Music practice and appreciation, and thereby giving a firm basis from which to springboard into A-level and beyond.
Two compositions are required – one of the candidate’s own choice and another to a brief released by the exam board in September of the academic year the candidate is to take their exam. The minimum total length for the two compositions is 4 and a half minutes. Compositions need to be submitted as a recording accompanied by a score, lead sheet, or written account. This recording can be done live (carried out by the student and accompanied by other musicians if necessary, who do not need to be following the course) or electronically produced (for which there is plenty of free or cheap software available). Both compositions will be monitored as work in progress throughout the process to ensure that the work is clearly the candidate’s own: this is an exam board requirement.
Performances must total a minimum of 10 minutes which may (but does not have to) include some ensemble work. Ideally, students study these pieces with their instrumental teachers with guidance by their A level music teacher on repertoire choice. For those students without instrumental/vocal teachers, we are able and happy to provide instruction on performance throughout the course, including regular assessments. All students need to be aware that they will be responsible for finding someone else to perform alongside for the ensemble aspect of the course if they wish to choose that aspect; they will also need to find an accompanist where necessary. This should not be a major issue as instrumental teachers often have other students who could participate in a duo/ trio or the teachers themselves can perform with the candidates (the other performers in the ensemble need not be A Level candidates). Alternatively, candidates could find people to perform with through their local music centre or even through advertising online.
To ensure all the submitted exam performances are the candidates’ own announcement which will match up with the mp3 recording of the same performance. the videos will only be seen by the teacher and will not be sent to the exam board.
Appraising Music: 40%
Within classes, students will learn how to aurally analyse each of the musical elements and compositional devices listed within the specification. To help expand the number of pieces studied, students would then apply such analysis to different pieces within the same Area of Study. Allowing
for peer review, the teacher may ask students to mark each others’ work, which would also ensure they are encountering a greater number of pieces.
Teacher assessments are continuous during the live taught lessons, monitoring and marking of non-exam assessments, and summative tests. Both performance and composition are non-examined assessments. (The teacher has confirmed with AQA that it is acceptable for him to carry out these assessments and sign the authentication forms). The listening and appraising component is externally assessed at the end of the course and thus will need to take place at a centre.
2 x LIVE weekly 1 hour lessons, marking and feedback, exam preparation and lots of friendly advice and encouragement
How it works
Students attend two weekly LIVE interactive music classes with a qualified and experienced teachers. All lessons are video-recorded and provide an invaluable resource for revision and catch up. Additionally, students receive access to their own online studio where they can work through their course. Units and assignments are listed along with supporting resources, video tutorials for skills development, step by step guides etc. Audio, video and Word files of students’ completed work are uploaded to their college e portfolio for assessment and constructive, friendly written feedback on how to progress. Additionally students are invited to attend optional LIVE interactive online lessons at timetabled times. If students can’t make the lessons they can watch them in their own time so they won’t miss any of the course content. The fully qualified and experienced school music teachers are available for feedback via email and the online learning portal. Students are invited to discuss their progress and receive face to face verbal feedback, encouragement and support. Students may also benefit from relationships with their fellow online students as they can view profiles and comment on each others’ work if they wish.
Meet the teachers
BA Hons, PGCE, LLCM, DipABRSM
Mr. Gazard is a freelance musician and teacher who has been closely involved with music education for over 25 years. He is a former secondary school music teacher, including 12 years as Head of Music in a Performing Arts Specialist school, and has also been the Secondary Curriculum Excellence Advisor for Buckinghamshire. Mr. Gazard is a pianist, singer and percussionist, and is currently the Curriculum Development Lead for High Wycombe Music Centre (part of the Buckinghamshire Music Trust) where he also directs the Intermediate Orchestra. He has taught GCSE and A level music for many years and across a number of different boards both in schools and as a private tutor. He prides himself on his eclectic approach to music, being equally happy in Bach or Bacharach: his specialisms are jazz and musical theatre. Patrick is an award-winning music education author having written three books, the most recent of which ‘Being a Head of Music: a Survival Guide’ (co-authored by his teaching colleagues Mrs. Werry and Mr. Ashworth) won ‘Best Music Education Product’ at the Music Teacher Magazine Awards 2018. He is also a professional composer and arranger, and in addition to working for Glee Club UK as a vocal and track arranger he is also the Resident Composer for Fourways Theatre Company in High Wycombe. He has recently begun a new venture as presenter of The Jazz Hour on Wycombe Sound Community Radio.
Mr. Gazard is based in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire and is married with two children.
BA Hons, MA (Cantab), PGCE
Mrs. Werry has taught music in secondary schools since 1993, and for the last 20 years has been Director of Music and a Specialist Leader in Education at a large secondary school in London. As well as school teaching, Mrs. Werry has been a senior moderator for AS and A level harmony and composition. She is also Senior Trainer for Musical Futures, providing professional development for music teachers across the UK.
Writing credits include a Diary of a HoD (Head of Department), a bi-monthly column for Music Teacher Magazine, and regular items for the magazine’s online resource collection. Mrs. Werry has co-written A level study guides and revision guides, and two books for music teachers: Teaching Music: Practical Strategies for KS3 and Being a Head of Music: a Survival Guide.
Mrs. Werry also has a busy performing schedule as a singer, multi-instrumentalist, and actor.
It is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to arrange their examinations. It is possible to sit Music examinations at centres in London, Manchester and Coventry and perhaps at your local school or college.
A Level Music is not available for private candidates outside of the UK. If you are an international student at an international school you can apply if you can sit the exam at your school.
How to apply
Our school is nearly always full, with very few school places!